I'm not typically a lover of organ music nor am I accomplished organist, but I'd have given vital parts of my anatomy to sit down and play this.

The National Cathedral's Great Organ was installed in 1938. The original instrument consisted of approximately 8,400 pipes. It was enlarged in 1963 and again between 1970 and 1975, during which time more than half of the original instrument was removed. Currently it has 189 ranks (or a set of pipes) and more than 10,600 pipes. It is the largest organ in the city of Washington and one of the twenty largest organs in the world.

For a brief period, there was a movement to de-ornamentalize the organ.  The idea was that the more fancy the building and the things in the building, the more that took away from God.  Simple was better.  So often the fancier of the furniture and sculptures in cathedrals at that time were removed -- or at least what was added was done for function only and seldom were very elaborate or elegant.  During that time many of the more intricate pipes were hidden from view or taken out and replaced by these very simple pipes.  Then during the most recent renovation, most of the fancier pipes were replaced.  This is the only set of simple pipes left.  I find the starkness of the pipes an interesting juxtaposition against this very ornate light fixture.


Occasionally, I play the organ in church. I have a terrible time making my feet do something different than my left hand and I'm not fast or accurate enough with my feet to play exactly what the left hand plays.  I had to play Hark The Herald Angels Sing for the church Christmas program and finally I just surrendered and quit trying to play about three quarters of the foot work.  I'm sure that ninety percent of my problem is not having enough time with the instrument to practice, but I'm here to tell you If I had to figure out how to use all these stops, AND play with my feet, I would pull all my hair out.

When we were there, there was a organ demonstration and the Assistant Organist played some pretty complicated stuff. Lots of people were impressed with his musicianship and his skill.  Me?  I was just impressed he wasn't bald.